Happy Halloween, spaghetti arms!
Spaghetti arms. That term stuck in my craw as a teenager. “I’m a runner, okay? Excess muscle is a detriment in this sport! Among my scrawny runner buddies I’m bulky!”
That illusion lasted until I went to college. I walked into my dorm room the first day to discover my roommate looked like an ancient Greek statue of Perseus. David? Theseus? You get my point.
I tried going to the gym, but dear looorrrrd that’s boring! Stand in front of a mirror and watch myself, or watch other people watching each other? I’d rather go for a run. (Rowing was nice though, especially when a gay guy hit on me. “Why thank you! No thank you, but thank you!”)
I later tried rock climbing, since the exercise component there is incidental to the enjoyment. It was a lot of fun (if anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area wants to go rock climbing, give me a call) but I soon learned that the trick to rock climbing is to let your bones carry the weight, not your muscles, and to be careful with your center of balance.
No giant muscles erupted on my arms.
It was better while traveling, since most of the world doesn’t have the leisure time to lift weights for no particular purpose, they’re busy lifting actual things that need to be lifted. I remember in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, a local guy wanted to give me a hug hello, next to the construction site where he carried bags of concrete mix all day. He was of comparable dimensions to me, but when we clapped a Man Hug on each other, it felt like he was made of sandbags, not flesh.
I’ve bulked out a little since my runner days (I’m more of a fettuccine now) and have long since come to terms with never being a muscle man or a gym rat. But then a funny thing happened. I moved into a house…with a kickboxing gym in the back bedroom. Muay thai, really.
Yup. It’s bachelortastic around here.
I’m still not going to bulk up, but I feel a whole lot better after an hour in there, jumping rope, punching the bag until my arms get too heavy (which happens remarkably fast) then kicking it until my breath burns in my throat (again, unexpectedly immediate).
It also serves as a great decompression space after a couple hours of trying to mentally-constipated attempts at writing, or if I’m, say, frustrated that I didn’t come up with a costume for my first Halloween back in the US, nor a place to go tonight, and am feeling like a social failure and borderline loser.
I still don’t have any place to go tonight, but that’s okay. I’ve been to parties, and the holiday I’m really looking forward to will be spent with family in four weeks. So there will be a muay thai fighter handing out candy to the neighborhood kids here tonight, and I’m looking forward to it.
(Nobody’d better try any “tricks” though, because I’ve been working on my right cross…)